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This weekend, MLB’s playoff races begin for real

Friday’s Say Hey, Baseball sees a busy, playoff-oriented schedule for the weekend.

San Francisco Giants v Chicago Cubs Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

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There’s just over one month of the 2016 regular season left, and MLB’s schedule is a wonderful reminder of that. This weekend, we’ve got Giants vs. Cubs, Yankees vs. Orioles, the Marlins against the Indians, the Astros up against the Rangers, Nationals vs. Mets, and the Tigers are taking on the Royals. That’s six series that have, for both teams, serious implications for their respective playoff races. All the baseball that’s come before this mattered, as it’s how we got to this point, but that whole idea of September baseball being more meaningful makes some measure of sense when you see how little time is left to make things right.

The Giants are trying to take back the NL West or hold onto a wild card, and the Cubs are looking to lock up the NL Central as quickly as possible. Both the Yanks and O’s are vying for a wild card, and the latter is still close enough to the AL East lead to dream. The Marlins are three games back of an NL wild card, with hopes they’re still close when Giancarlo Stanton returns. Cleveland has the AL Central lead, but they aren’t that far ahead of Detroit. The Tigers are hoping to end the Royals’ hopes at a late-season comeback, the Nationals want to end the Mets’ chances sooner than later, and while the Astros are unlikely to catch the Rangers, they’re close enough to the wild card that winning this weekend series would still be huge.

There are, of course, other meaningful games this weekend: the Red Sox hope to take advantage of the A’s to bolster their own playoff chances, the Cardinals look to do the same against the Reds, the Blue Jays know they can gain ground on someone out East so long as they topple the Rays, the Dodgers have a chance to move even further ahead of the Giants by downing the Padres, and the Mariners have a chance to move right back into the middle of the wild card race with a strong weekend against the Angels. It’s going to be like this for the next month — September baseball, everyone.